As autobahn crash probe continues, two victims are in stable condition
July 13, 2009
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Two Baumholder-based soldiers who were seriously injured in a deadly crash in late May are in stable condition, officials say. The investigation into the single-vehicle accident continues more than a month later.
Officials cited patient privacy laws as the reason for not releasing the names of the surviving soldiers, including one who is believed to have been the driver, and not saying whether they were still being treated at German hospitals.
Killed in the crash were Sgt. Alexander Westbrooks, 26; Spc. Laron Gadson, 24; and Spc. Michael S. Clark, 22.
The accident occurred just days after the five soldiers had returned from a 14-month tour in Iraq as part of the 47th Forward Support Battalion, assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. German police said at the time of the crash that alcohol might have been a factor and that they believed the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.
No charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing, said Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto, a 2nd Brigade, 1st AD spokesman.
Investigators declined to comment on any details regarding the investigation into the crash, such as what evidence has been collected and what still needs to be completed.
"To release anything would put the integrity of the investigation into question, and we want to protect the rights of those involved," Marotto said. "They (the investigators) need to be as thorough and as fair as possible."
German police have finished their portion of the investigation and have given all their materials to military investigators, a German police official said.
The five soldiers were traveling toward Kaiserslautern on May 31 in a rented Audi station wagon when the car drove off the side of Autobahn 63, causing the vehicle to flip and eject everyone, German police said. The exact time of the accident is unknown, but the soldiers were discovered by a German hunter around 7 a.m., police said.
A memorial was held last month for the three soldiers who died.
Westbrooks, of New York City, was an automated logistical specialist with the 47th FSB. His recent deployment was his second to Iraq.
Gadson, of Greensboro, N.C., was a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic, and his Iraq deployment was his first.
Clark, of Douglas, Ga., was an electronic-device repairer, and he had also just completed his first tour in Iraq.